The Honourable Chief Minister And All Legislators
Government of Karnataka,
We are a group of senior scientists, writers, academics, artists, and lawyers, and we write with concern about Karnataka’s deteriorating governance and the frequent violence against religious minorities. Over the past few months, the state has witnessed the brutal killing of youths in several districts, rampant ‘hate speeches’, public threats and disruptions of worship by religious minorities, ‘honour killings’, ‘moral policing’, misogynistic statements by legislators, and incidents of hostile and violent encounters between various religious groups. These trends have been encouraged by the callous and un-constitutional statements made by Legislators and the inability of the state machinery to rein-in fringe anti-social groups.
Such trends go against the long history of Karnataka as a progressive state that facilitated social harmony of a plural society and initiated model welfare programs for all sections of the population. The state’s cultural history celebrates the plurality of cultures and religious tolerance and our icons have long been Basavanna, Akkamahadevi, Kanakadasa, Purandaradasa, and Shishunala Sharifa. Our litterateurs, ranging from Bendre to Kuvempu, have celebrated a “Karnatakatva” that is based on multi-cultural identities that blend together to make a harmonious and rich social fabric.
We note with both sadness and alarm that these traditions of tolerance and shared well-being are being torn asunder. Instead, the state is losing its identity on multiple fronts. On the fiscal, administrative, and political fronts Karnataka is losing its federal strength. Recent legislations such as the ‘cow protection’ and ‘anti-conversion’ Acts are pogroms against the economic and cultural rights of religious minorities. No longer are harmony, peace, and tolerance the hallmarks of the state. It also needs to be stressed that if the above issues are not addressed, even Karnataka’s reputation as a business destination is bound to be impacted negatively as all types of economic activity depend upon an atmosphere of social peace and harmony.
As elected representatives, it is the responsibility of the Chief Minister and all legislators to deliberate on all legislations, programs, and policies in a democratic and open manner. Implementing received ideas and suggestions that seek to assert only narrow, sectarian agendas will only be antithetical to the interests of the state and its people.
We call upon you all to seriously review these negative trends in the state and to ensure that the rule of law, the principles of the Constitution, the rights of all citizens, and the basic norms of humaneness prevail. It will be your abilities to address these challenges that will be the yardstick with which posterity will assess you.
On this special day, as we celebrate our national status as a ‘Republic’ and as a state within this federal republic, we write this with hope that you will initiate a period of social harmony, just legislations, and democratic functioning of the state machinery.
Prof. Vinod Gaur (former Secretary, Dept of Science and Technology, Geo-Physicist)
Flavia Agnes (Lawyer and Author), Mumbai
Prof. Janaki Nair (Historian)
Prof. Vidyanand Nanjundiah (Scientist)
Prof. Sharadchandra Lele (Ecologist)
Dr. Ramachandra Guha (Historian and Commentator)
Prof. Rameswari Varma (Economist, and Theatre personality, Mysuru)
K.P.Suresha (Poet, Essayist, and Translator)
Prof. Mahesh Shah (Scientist)
Purushottam Bilimale (Writer, Literary Critic, New Delhi)
Prof. Prajval Shastri (Astro-physicist)
Prof. Satish Deshpande (Sociologist, New Delhi)
Almitra Patel (Environmentalist)
Dr. Yellappa Reddy (Forester and Environmentalist)
Aroon Raman (Writer and Industrialist)
Rammanohar Reddy (Editor, The India Forum)
Prof. Renee Borges (Ecologist)
Balan Nambiar (Artist)
Ammu Joseph (Journalist, Writer)
Dileep Kamat (Community Organiser)
Prof. Tejaswini Niranjana (Writer and academic)
S.G. Vasudev (Artist)
Prof. Govind Rao (Economist)
Harish Narasappa (Advocate)
Major General S.G. Vombatkere (VSM, Retd)
Nagesh Hegde (Environmentalist, Journalist)
Prof. Subramony Mahadevan (Scientist)
Prof. Mary E. John (Independent Scholar)
Vivek Shanbhag (Writer, IT professional)
Prof. Sharath Ananthamurthy (Physicist)
Prof. V.K. Natraj (Economist, Educationist)
Bezwada Wilson (Human Rights’ Specialist)
Prof. A.R.Vasavi (Social Anthropologist)